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Making the most of your adviser – by Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

Be it a transaction or specific problems you are dealing with, from time to time you need advice from a professional, inevitably this requires the exchange of money in return for the advice. Advice comes based on years of experience and associated professional qualifications. A short piece of advice therefore may seem expensive but it is important to remember that it’s not depth, but value of impact that matters. By and large advisers sell time based on that experience and skill set and an hourly rate or even a fixed rate reflexes this historic experience.

When someone seeks advice, paid for or even a freebie, acting on this advice is a choice of the recipient, inevitably, and advice can sometimes be unpalatable. I know personally when I have been given advice I’d rather not have heard how difficult it is to act. This is worse still when you know that it’s the right thing to do, but actually don’t want to admit it.

The adviser client relationship is a very special one. This “trusted “position is unique in a business relationship being so much more than a supplier customer process, not least because often the reliance on the advice can be critical and far reaching.

As a result any breach of trust on either side can be catastrophic and difficult to resurrect. The sad thing is that trust can be destroyed for the most minor issue, especially if this is due to a culmination of other minor issues. This is also not a one sided issue, trust is important on both sides of the table. Based on 25 years of giving advise the following are the “pot holes” that are worth considering;

You are just that an adviser, the client can choose to take this or not. Don’t push them to a corner they don’t want to be in, rather point out the pitfall of their alternative and better still offer possible solution. This may seem obvious but I have seen countless advisers push and push against a closed door out of sheer bloody mindedness, stay personable. Ok so you may have a professional qualification that your client doesn’t have but that doesn’t make you superior to them in anyway. Over deliver but don’t over promise. Say what you mean but say it politely. Give the client time to consider options and don’t push for quick decisions unless it is really time and critical. Simple, (I think not!)

Advisers are not mind readers they need to know what you want and when very specifically. Don’t lash out at your adviser if you don’t like what they are saying, it isn’t their fault you don’t like the advice. Reply promptly to information requests whatever they may be as without your input they may be unable to progress. Be realistic about expectations; by all means agree very specific performance criteria but advisers are not magicians.

As with most relationships the key is to always communicate. Communicate; don’t let matters fester, it is much better to deal with matters head on asap.


Jo Haigh is head of FDS corporate finance services and the author of The Financial Times Guide to Finance for Non Financial Managers. You can reach her at


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